Human RightsYemen

HRW slams immunity for Yemen’s Saleh

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced a draft law that grants Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution despite his role in the killings of hundreds of protesters since January 2011.

The executive Middle East director at HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson said on Tuesday that passing the bill would be “an affront to thousands of victims of Saleh’s repressive rule, including the relatives of peaceful protesters shot dead last year.”

“Yemeni authorities should be locking up those responsible for serious crimes, not rewarding them with a license to kill,” Whitson added.

On Monday, Yemen’s interim government approved the draft law, which grants amnesty “against legal and judicial prosecution” to Saleh and his aides “who worked with him in all government, civil and military departments during the years of his rule.”

The United States has defended the bill, which still needs to be approved by the Yemeni parliament.

Yemeni anti-regime protesters held a demonstration against the draft law in the capital Sana’a on Tuesday.

Demonstrators hold Saleh responsible for the killing of hundreds of protesters during the popular uprising that began in late January 2011.

Yemeni forces loyal to Saleh continue the violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

On Monday, Saleh forces killed two protesters in an attack on a demonstration in the southern city of Taizz.

“From north to south to central Sana’a, the Saleh government has violated the basic rights of the Yemeni people,” Whitson said.

“Without accountability for these crimes, there can be no genuine break from the past in a post-Saleh Yemen.”

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